PricewaterhouseCoopers' quarterly Korpacz Real Estate Investor Survey last week found that equity investors are still patiently waiting to acquire decent, stable assets at distressed prices. But the deals have just not materialized, according to survey respondents.

"We are surprised at the lack of buying opportunities given all the turmoil right now," one participant commented. It seems owners have been able to hold onto assets despite challenges in the economy and in commercial real estate in particular. It also may be that stable assets will never trade for the kinds of discounted prices that some investors are hoping for.

According to the report, "While some investors are looking to the looming $153.0 billion of CMBS (commercial mortgage backed securities) loans coming due in 2012 as the catalyst to jump-start buying opportunities, other investors are expecting near-term defaults with commercial banks to provide some distressed buying prospects." (According to the Mortgage Bankers Association, CMBS and other securitized loans account for 21 percent of the outstanding commercial real estate debt while commercial banks account for about 45 percent of the debt total.)

The survey included a year over year look at cap rates for both regional malls and strip shopping centers. Cap rates on both segments jumped considerably from what respondents reported 12 months ago. On regional malls, cap rates are 111 basis points higher than a year ago and at their highest level since 2003. Cap rates on strip shopping centers jumped 108 basis points bringing them in line with where they were in 2004.